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A Very Special Guest in Panama

Posted by Abby Bryant on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

During our last goodbyes in June of this past year, my dad tearfully hugged me and promised to visit me in Panama for Christmas. It was that very visit that gave me something to look forward to and got me through some of my roughest moments down here. 

Harvesting cocoa in PanamaHarvesting cocoa with some of my villagers

Six months, to the day, after that sad goodbye, my dad finally arrived!  To say he´s not exactly a traveler is putting it lightly. So, add an international trip with connecting planes, busses, and taxis in a land where he doesn´t know the language (and isn´t quite accustomed to the booming music and noises of Central American towns) and my dad was more than a little out of his element.  

After an overnight delay in Costa Rica (unplanned and unwanted), I picked my dad up from the bus station and threw him straight into my village. For the first few days he got a taste of life as a Peace Corps Volunteer- lack of amenities included. Despite my warnings to conserve water, my huge water tank was empty within the first 3 days. I reacted the only way possible, with a laugh and a walk to the creek to bathe and gather water. Even dad managed to look on the bright side.  In his words, "Who else do you know gets to look at a little waterfall when they´re taking a bath?"

Peace Corps house

Checking my water tank

Next, we headed up to the mountains of Chiriqui where we spent Christmas in Boquete (which happens to be one of the top ranked places in the world for retirement). I enjoyed being able to cook with tons of kitchen appliances, and my dad and I both enjoyed a coffee tour with Kotowa coffee.

Then it was back to my site for another week, where we visited various families, prayed for rain to refill my tank (which didn´t come), and prepared for our town´s first New Years Party.  

Fresh Breakfast in Panama

A deliciously fresh breakfast!

waterfall in Bocas del Toro

Last on our agenda, we spent a glorious week soaking up the sun on Isla Colon, a lovely 1 hour commute from my village. We rented bikes, cruised various beaches, took a snorkeling tour, played with a Macaw, and ate oh so much food. Though I had a stomach ache for most of the week (Apparently that´s what happens when my village vegan diet returns to a normal meat and dairy filled one), it was wonderful to spend our last few days in one of my favorite locations in all of Panama.  

Snorkeling in Bocas del Toro

Parrots in Panama

Saying goodbye this time was just as hard as the first.  Though I do love my town and my new home, it´s still a little hard to return to village life after a blissful week of vacation, especially since I´m returning without my padre in tow. Fingers are crossed and prayers are said for a safe trip home (and speedy return to Panama) for my dad, and I´m anxious to see who my next Panamanian visitors will be!

 Bocas del Toro

Topics: Peace Corps, Panama, Volunteer Abroad, Abby Bryant

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In Bearcats on the Road, students chronicle their lives while studying abroad or completing internships away from campus.

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